Hibee Fay is hoping to save Scots

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HIBS Ladies goalkeeper Gemma Fay will celebrate ten years in the Scottish Women's squad by playing in a match which she simply describes as "a must win" if she and her team-mates are to keep their European Championship dream alive.

Scotland face Portugal tomorrow in their latest qualifying match, the importance of which was underlined by a narrow defeat by Denmark last weekend.

The Scots trail group leaders Ukraine and Denmark by eight points but they go into tomorrow's match at Varzim knowing victory would see them leapfrog Slovakia into third place in their group.

And today Fay admitted finishing as one of the best third-placed teams to earn a play-off now represented the Scots' best hopes of making the finals.

She said: "We've made it hard for ourselves and tomorrow is a must-win game but we are still hopeful not only of doing so but winning our remaining matches.

"We had a really good chance against Denmark, one up at half-time but it wasn't to be." Although the Scots have now lost twice to the Danes and once to Ukraine, Fay insisted the fact all three of those setbacks had been by a single goal was a measure of how the women's game has progressed in this country.

She said: "Denmark are one of the top teams in the world, they recently beat Germany and Sweden in the Algarve Cup, and to have lost so narrowly to them puts things into perspective."

Having made her international debut against the Czech Republic in May, 1998, Fay, who is now nearing 100 caps, is perfectly placed to reflect on the rise of women's football in Scotland – and she sees vast differences.

She said: "When I first started we had one set of tracksuits that went round everyone, we just did the best we could at the time. Now the whole set-up is so professional and the whole profile of women's football has risen considerably.

"Our Under-19 side have just qualified for their European Championship finals, that's the top eight in Europe, so we can see more girls playing and standards rising all the time."

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